Growing Your Lead Generation Sales Funnel
If you have followed me to this point, you understand what you need to have before you can build a sales funnel and the basic steps needed to start generating leads from your website. You know how to create content your prospects will love, and the best ways to improve incrementally using measurable data.
However, there is a big difference between having the right information and actually being able to use it. So in this final chapter, I want to give you some miscellaneous pieces of advice you can use to actually put these ideas into action. This is my attempt to give you a “grab bag” of additional insights and reminders I think will be helpful as you get your lead generation campaigns moving. I hope you’ll take them to heart and put them to work on your website.
Let’s start with a piece of advice that’s almost always difficult for business owners and executives to follow.
Be Patient While Getting Started
Your lead generation campaigns aren’t going to go into full gear right away. Don’t get me wrong: many of the clients I work with do see almost immediate gains in the number of sales opportunities they are able to create. However, it takes time for Google, social media users, and even interested prospects to discover all the new content and offers you’re posting online. It takes even longer for you to study your web analytics and refine your approach.
The key to managing this process is looking for incremental gains and then staying focused on the payoff that awaits you at the end of the process. Whether you realize it or not, putting a strong sales funnel into place isn’t just a way to get a few more customers or clients here and there – once your plan takes off, it can literally transform your company and increase the margins you earn on every sale.
You wouldn’t expect to remake any other part of your life or business overnight, so give your lead generation strategy time to work. Give up too soon and all your efforts and investments could go to waste.
Always Look for New Traffic Sources
It is taken almost as a given in today’s digital marketing world that the best way to get traffic to your website is by engaging in organic search engine optimization or paid ads on Google. This point of view is often accurate, but that doesn’t mean you should maintain a single-minded focus on those channels.
For one thing, there are other ways to get interested prospects to your website. As I’ve already mentioned, social media, affiliate marketing, and even email referrals can all be important and consistent sources of referrals. In some situations, you might be able to use them more profitably than you would a search engine, particularly if visitors from one source convert at a higher rate than others.
For another thing, the digital world is always changing. Ten years ago, optimizing your website for search wasn’t as big of a deal. And we did it completely differently, with a huge focus on keywords and no regard for things like geography or mobile compatibility.
The point to be made here is that things change and every business situation is different. Use your instincts and analytics data to guide you toward the sources of web traffic that make the most sense for your sales funnel. Then, keep looking for new answers because there are always more ideas to try.
Keep Your Content Plan Moving
In my business we don’t just help clients to create sales funnels and lead generating websites – we also work with business owners and executives who need to fix campaigns that aren’t working the way they are supposed to.
Usually, when a business is trying to generate leads but can’t, our first instinct is to check the volume and quality of their new marketing content. That’s because we know, in most cases, the lead engine simply ran out of gas. There weren’t enough new articles, videos, or ideas being produced, so buyers stopped showing up. Or what was being posted online was so bland that engagement wasn’t a factor and visitors weren’t interested enough to follow up on any offers.
Although I made this point earlier in the book, it needs to be repeated here: unique and interesting content is the cornerstone of your lead generation plan. If you fall behind on your editorial calendar, or don’t follow one at all, your results are going to suffer. When they do, it will take a long time for you to get back on track. So keep up with your content habit and then watch the results come in month after month.
Refine and Replace Offers as Needed
If content is what you use to draw visitors to your website and keep them on your pages, then ultimately your offers have to do the heavy lifting when it comes to getting prospective buyers to share their contact details. They are the tools you use to bring prospects deeper into your sales funnel.
Some of your offers will undoubtedly be more successful than others. However, you should always be looking to experiment with new ideas, formats, and even graphical buttons or invitations to see what works and what doesn’t.
Sometimes, prospects will respond to messages in ways you don’t expect. They may like some particular ebook, app, or video when you expect they wouldn’t (or vice versa). The great thing about these offers is that they are almost always digital in nature, meaning you can make edits and updates on the fly. Don’t be afraid to tweak them, or experiment with different versions, based on what you hear from customers or see in your web analytics data.
Review Your Web Analytics Carefully
Speaking of your web analytics, let me remind you one more time that you should be peeking at yours very frequently to understand which parts of your sales funnel are doing their jobs and which pieces could be holding you back.
This might seem redundant, given that I just used an entire chapter to outline the importance of studying website visitor behavior. However, as with content creation, this is an area where business owners and executives tend to cut corners. They may get busy with other tasks, assume their websites are working perfectly because they are getting leads, or simply feel averse to looking closely at numbers and statistics.
Regardless of the specific reasons, it isn’t unusual for us to meet with business-people who aren’t all that aware of what is happening on their pages. This isn’t always a big deal at first, but it can force them into making bad assumptions or decisions later.
Online lead generation is a data-driven process. The minute you stop paying attention to your marketing dashboards, or replace real insights with guesswork, you’re in danger of losing sales opportunities. Knowing that, I hope you’ll make an effort to keep an eye on your web statistics even if you don’t feel like you fully understand them at first.
Get to Know More Prospects and Customers
You may remember that I wrote in the beginning of this book that it is very difficult to build a successful lead generation website if you don’t understand your target market. That remains true even after you’ve put your plan in place.
Just as you should get better at developing blog posts, creating offers, and studying the flow of traffic to your website, you should also be keeping an eye on your target market to see what your prospects are talking and thinking about. You should get to know your best buyers so you can understand more about their motivations and find others who are just like them.
Never assume you know everything about the men and women who come to you as leads. Take the steps I recommended earlier and keep reading what they read, attending the same conferences they show up to, and considering the issues they raise. When you know them better than your competitors do, you can give them value no one else can provide. That’s a strong basis for a sales funnel, not to mention an enduring market advantage.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
If you have ever learned a musical instrument, then you’ll be familiar with a learning process that can feel almost magical.
In the beginning, you study simple basics, like the right way to press a key or pluck a string. Then, you put those movements into patterns while following a rigid set of instructions (music sheet). The goal is to duplicate someone else’s work as closely and precisely as possible. Eventually, though, you become fluent enough with the motions and sound combinations that you can play effortlessly from your own inspiration.
The same thing happens in online marketing. Business owners and executives start by mastering a handful of principles and then imitating what they have seen work elsewhere. However, with enough time, experience, and knowledge, they can start to improvise and find solutions that work for their business and customer base.
You can’t ever reach that point – and go far beyond your competitors – if you aren’t willing to experiment and take risks. I don’t mean you should ignore good advice out of the gate, of course, just that you should always be looking for opportunities to grow and challenge assumptions.
Effective lead generation almost always follows the pattern I’ve laid out in this short book. However, every marketing situation is unique, and anything that helps you grow your business can turn out to be a profitable and effective strategy. There are a lot of ways to generate leads when you know what you’re doing… and amazing things happen once you build your online lead machine
Ready to Start Finding More Qualified Leads?
In my mind, the main purpose of a business website is to generate leads or sales. Otherwise, what’s the point of paying for a web presence at all, much less maintaining it with new content and upgrades?
If you’re willing to study and practice the principles I’ve laid out in this short book, you’ll have everything you need to turn your website into a lead generation machine. The process isn’t complicated, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy, either. It takes work, planning, and a determination to stay patient until you get the right results.
With that in mind, my recommendation to you is that you begin putting these ideas into action right away. It’s one thing to think about lead generation or imagine what it might be like to have new sales opportunities from qualified buyers show up in your inbox every day. It’s another thing to actually get to work and start designing the ingredients like blog posts, offers, and email chains that will get you to that point.
You might be thinking there are more tools you need to generate leads online, and it could be the case that your website requires upgrades or you need help setting up a web analytics package. However, there are things you can do right now, such as creating buyer and influencer personas or thinking about the kinds of information guides that would have real value to the people you want to pull into your sales funnel.
Some of these concepts might need to be adjusted later, but the big risk is in failing to get started. I have seen again and again that the businesses that embrace digital strategies for lead generation are the ones that pull ahead of their competitors. Do you really want to be left behind in your industry because you aren’t focused enough to take action on what you’ve learned?
My other piece of advice is to find an expert team of designers, web developers, and online marketing experts who can guide you toward the business model you’re looking to create. Work with someone who understands how sales funnels operate and can critique and develop your ideas.
You could claim that I’m biased, but having the right expertise on your side can make an enormous difference when you’re trying to design a website or offer that will appeal to customers. Things like color, image size, and form structure all take on an oversized importance when small differences in conversion percentages mean a huge improvement or decrease in sales.
Of course, if you want to hire the best in the business, I would encourage you to reach out to my firm for a free consultation. Not only have we been able to help dozens of other businesses like yours to achieve amazing lead generation results – with the verifiable case studies to prove it – but we pride ourselves on being easy to work with.
So, it doesn’t matter whether you need simple answers to basic questions or want to do a deep audit of your current website to improve your existing lead generation campaigns. We are here to help and give you the insights you need. Best of all, we do it in a friendly, client-focused way without charging the kinds of rates you would expect from a huge agency.
Either way, know that you can do this. No matter where you’re starting out from, or how far away lead generation success might seem, there are business owners and marketers just like you who know what’s on the other side. If you could ask them, they would tell you that moving to an inbound lead generation model was probably the best thing they ever did to grow their sales and take a huge amount of stress out of the online marketing process. They would also want you to know you can have the same success.
I wish you the very best of luck in growing your company. You can do this!
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About Glenn Brooks
Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.